The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10th September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this programme, the Government had pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State. The bulk of these persons were intended to be UNHCR programme refugees from Lebanon and asylum seekers in Greece arriving in Ireland from Greece and Italy under the EU relocation mechanism. However, the latter mechanism did not deliver the numbers envisaged and the Government has chosen to fill the gap by making additional pledges for programme refugees and through the recently announced IRPP Humanitarian Assistance Programme (IHAP), which will provide for the admission of up to 530 immediate family members of Irish citizens, persons with Convention refugee or subsidiary protection status and persons with programme refugee status.
Ireland had committed to accept 1,040 refugees by the end of 2017 under the resettlement strand of the programme and currently 820 people have arrived. The remaining individuals are due to arrive in the coming months.
I have pledged to take a further 945 refugees from Lebanon between 2018 (345) and 2019 (600). At the present time it is intended to undertake two selection missions in Lebanon in 2018, one in June and one in September, in order to select the 345 refugees who will be part of the 2018 pledge.
To date 1,022 people have arrived from Greece. This completed Ireland’s current relocation programme.
In addition, the Government has taken 41 unaccompanied minors from Calais to date and both IRPP and Tusla are in preliminary discussion with officials in Italy and Greece with a view to accepting up to 60 unaccompanied minors before the end of 2019.
The implementation of the IRPP for resettling Syrian refugees requires a high level of coordination among service delivery agencies at both national and local level. Service provision is mainstreamed and all the main statutory service providers are represented on the national Taskforce which oversees delivery of the programme.
As the Deputy will appreciate, a tailored and flexible approach is required to take account of differing family configurations and the availability of housing stock. Given the current difficulties in the housing market it is taking about twelve months to source suitable accommodation that match the needs of refugee families. The Irish Red Cross are also using pledged accommodation from the public to try and meet the needs of single persons as few accommodation options exist within the local authority sector for this cohort. Refugees, once resettled, largely fall under the auspices of the local authority "implementing partner" who provide appropriate services for a period of eighteen months to assist with integration.